Raleigh man gets prison time for gun-running tied to bloody African coup attempt

Ousted Gambian President Yahya Jammeh, center. (AP file photo)

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A Raleigh man will serve nine months in prison for his role in a gun-running scheme tied to a bloody African coup attempt, federal authorities announced Monday.

Alhaji Boye, 46, of Raleigh bought guns and ammunition that were later hidden in 55-gallon barrels of used clothing and smuggled to The Gambia, a nation in Africa, authorities said. The smuggled arms were part of The Gambia Freedom League’s efforts to oust longtime strongman President Yahya Jammeh, federal authorities said.

“The group hoped to take over the country, gain support from internal allies, and bring about regime change,” federal authorities wrote in a statement announcing Boye’s sentencing. “The primary goal was to overthrow the Gambian President Yahya Jammeh who had been in control of Gambia since his own nonviolent coup in 1994 and whose rule had been marred by accusations of years of human rights violations.”

The group struck Dec. 30, trying to break into the door of the Gambian State House.

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“The attempt failed and many of the conspirators died as a result of the ensuing gun battle,” read a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

The FBI interviewed a member the The Gambia Freedom League who returned to the United States the day after the coup attempt.

The bureau’s investigation turned up a transfer of $7,000 to Boye’s bank account in August 2014, followed by a number of purchases by Boye, authorities said.

He purchased two AK-47-style rifles, 7,000 rounds of ammunition, and 98 AK-47 magazines, the federal prosecutor’s office said. Boye also bought four Diambondback-brand rifles, according to federal authorities. Diamondback’s website shows that the company produces a range of AR-style rifles.

FBI traveled to The Gambia, where they found that five of the 35 firearms seized by Gambian security forces after the coup matched rifles purchased by Boye, the prosecutor’s office said.

Boye was sentenced to nine months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.

Jammeh lost an election in 2016, first conceding, then refusing to recognize the vote’s results. In January, he stepped down as a result of pressure from the United Nations and the African Union, which included other nations’ troops crossing into The Gambia.

Speaking through a Facebook video, a man identifying himself as Boye announced to supporters that he had been sentenced to the prison time. He also said that he is satisfied with the ouster of Jammeh.

People in The Gambia are free now, he said.

“They are free to do whatever they want,” he said. “They can speak up their mind without getting arrested or killed. And that’s what we were fighting for, and I think we have achieved that.”

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